I left the house in Bloomington at 8 am on October 19, sad to leave my children, and started the 13-hour drive to Lake Placid.
I saw an eviscerated cow, a bunch of deer, raccoons, and twelve Trump/Pence billboards between Indiana and New York.
It poured the whole way. I pissed under an overpass three times. I listened to all of the third Truly Devious book, A Hand on the Wall, which was good, but the culprit at the end was a little too easy and convenient, not to mention a bit of fruit from the random tree.
As soon as I hit exit 30, I started crying because it may be the last time I got off at this exit to drive to the house at Tuesday at 4 am, I was still crying.
Then I started going through my old papers and stories and books and photos from the first 30 years of my life, and I am so thankful for this house, saving this stuff and my parents.
The emotional and mental stress of going through all of this material–all of the school material from nursery school, the holiday cards, the baptism candles, the papers and handouts from undergrad and graduate school, the folders of works in progress was enormous.
In two weeks, my parents move to the shores of Lake Champlain and prepare to have surgery. Both of them are in their seventies. Their surgeries are laparoscopic and nothing serious, but every surgery is serious when you’re in your seventies. And it’s during a pandemic.
I descended into a doom spiral. I went for a walk on the golf course without my phone. I drew this of Cobble Mountain.
The volume of comics in my collection still being stored in my house was catastrophic. It was like past me was fucking with me.
That night, I went over to friends and enjoyed some new beer from the New Normal, a brewery down in the Cascades, and we enjoyed some Three Floyds Alpha King.
I came home and finished reading How to be Idle by Tom Hodgkinson. And the last chapter about creating the life ideal life–the idle life:
“As Cicero wrote in De Officis “[W]e must regard as something base and vile the trade of those who sell their toil and industry, for whoever gives his labour for money sells himself and puts himself in the rank of slaves.’ Or again, as Charles Handy puts it: ‘It has always seemed to me slightly bizarre that we should queue up to sell our time to someone else. It’s form of slavery, voluntary slavery. We think it’s great but it’s crazy.’..I have a dream. It is called love, anarchy, freedom. It is called being idle.”
My dad and I go to get the snow tires put on. I go to the Saranac Lake Book Nook and pick up Overstory by Richard Powers, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, and two books for the kids. I clean out the garden shed, help some athletes training at the Olympic Training Center move a book case my dad has sold. Two guys from SUNY Plattsburgh purchase our surround sound system.
I start packing away old papers to be recycled or burned like the forms I filled out to get food stamps when I was in grad school at Brooklyn College.
In the afternoon I get new Hatley pajamas for the kids, then head out to Elizabethtown to visit with my friend TJ Brearton and his family. We talk education, mental health, and the pandemic and why watching the debate is worse than watching a sporting event. But yet everyone seems convinced that someone needs to “win.” Nobody is winning.
Just go vote.
I leave my parents house at 7:30am and listen to Tara Westover’s Educated during my drive. It bores me for the first half of the book but when she does leave home for college and her brother Shawn grows more and more deranged that’s when it gets interesting. Throughout this I think about how family really affects oneself and how much a place is a part of it. It’s naturalism and I found the whole listening experience mixed but it was a lot to reflect on how education really brings us out of naturalism.
It’s a relief to be home, but still, every morning–I take a whiff of the jar that is filled with pine needles, moss, and dirt from the grounds where the above picture was taken.
Photos on Instagram.
I wish I could stay but I’m glad I’m not. Heading home to a family who needs me and an amazing wife who has been single-parenting it all week has been a relief, so that I can say goodbye to a house and a place that will always rise up in the lens of my mind whenever I close my eyes and put my fingers to the keyboard, or hold a pen to paper.
Thanks for riding with me. Onto the next adventure. Our regularly scheduled letters will resume next week.